by Mr. Allen for the Saker blog
Over the last few years, we hear leaders from both Russia and China pronouncing that they have formed a relationship where there are “no limits.” But even as they state that, many seem question their sincerity. For example, one of our favorite commentators wrote:
After all, even when the U.S. openly talks about subduing Russia only to go on to defeating China, why are Chinese leaders still so careful about staying “neutral” in the Russia-Ukraine – Russia-NATO-byProxy-US – war? Why doesn’t China embrace Russia more when the European nations are openly threatening to interfere in Taiwan should any conflict occur in that region? Why does China still want to hold out its hand to befriend Europe and U.S. both formally and openly treat China as an enemy?
Why must China abstain in that recent (non-binding) UN vote condemning Russia’s military operations in Ukraine? Why does China want to stay neutral in Ukraine when Ukraine has done so much to harm Chinese interests there, such as the nationalization of Motor Sich despite years of Chinese partnership and investments? When China sees how the West has back-stabbed Russia over the last two decades despite Putin et al.’s full efforts to befriend them, what does China think it can gain from befriending the West today?
Also as one of our favorite commentators Larchmonter445 recently noted:
The China-Russia relationship is elevated to ‘coordination’ of their strategic cooperation. It seems to be uncoordinated in the diplomatic sphere of late. China desperate to save the EU market and the logistical plans it had for BRI to use Ukraine’s geological positions and attributes.
Yet … I don’t think the leaders of Russia and China are lying when they pronounce that their partnership is stronger than traditional military alliances. One key point of the Russia-China relationship, as globaltimes article put it, is there should be “no limits to China-Russia cooperation, no limit to our pursuit of peace and maintaining security, and no limit to our opposition to hegemony.” Another key point in the Russia-China relationship is that neither side intends on pursuing a military alliance between them. These two key characteristics might cause some in the blog-sphere disappointment, but I think the leaders of the countries are much more prescient than meet the common eye.
In my view, the “no limit” and “no alliance” characteristics of Russia-China relationship shows the incredible strength – not weakness – of Russia-China relationship. The two characteristics make clear why the Russia-China relationship is so special – and potentially so powerful.
The two nations have pledged to create a new multipolar world. But they do not plan on conquering hegemony by becoming a new hegemon. They plan on dissolving it by offering an alternative that is so much more just and fair and that offers so much more opportunity for everyone to thrive than available through the current order.
Instead wrestling the hegemon, China and Russia aim to show the world another framework of development – opening new windows of possibilities based not on predatory practices and hegemonic suppression, but on mutual cooperation and mutual respect of differences. If they are successful, the rest of the world will walk away from the current world order. Even forces within the West will want to join. The current hegemonic world order run by the Deep State in the West will collapse, liberating peoples around the world, including those in the West.
Now from a purely a theoretical point of view, at least from the Chinese perspective, hegemony is not necessarily bad. Afterall, an all-powerful emperor – with the Mandate of Heaven – can be good. Rome in its glory days created a peace that enabled an era of prosperity for people throughout large parts of Europe and Middle East. In more recent history, when Russia and U.S. liberated Europe and Asian from Fascism and Militarism, they brought good to the world precisely because they were all-powerful (relatively to rest of the world) – hegemons – that said “no” to certain ideas.
But often bad will arise out of good … and eventually good will arise from the bad.
The key thing to see is that Russia and China must be cognizant that for many in the world, multi-polarity is not necessarily good or bad per se. For many countries, being in the good Graces of the hegemon can bring enormous benefits, too (think India?). What unites Russia and China to fight the current world hegemony must be the depravity, the corruption, the downright immorality of the current hegemony – not simply that multi polarity is per se good.
But how do you fight hegemony without being a hegemon yourself?
Here is a vision. We are at the end of the era for hegemony. We have had a few hundred years of Western hegemony, and while it has brought many good things, it has brought also trails of tears for many. So many peoples, civilizations, histories, and narratives have been subdued. It is time enough for a vast expense of humanity to revive and reawaken, for peoples and cultures to rediscover and regrow their traditions and histories … to build a new, more vibrant and prosperous world.
Whatever progress hegemony has brought to the world, enough is enough. It is time for a change. In the cycle of history, good has followed bad, and bad has followed good. It is time for the dawn of multipolarity yet again.
We are not at the end of history; we have not even seen the epitome of history. As Ghandi once allegedly observed after being asked what he thought of Western civilization: “I think it would be a good idea!”
Allow me a little digression. Many of the basic tenants of Western civilization are a façade. Free market and open economy? Yes … but only as a tool to pillage. When a relative economic peer arise – i.e. China – ideals of free market, free trade, and open economies go out the window.
Rule of law? Only when they are the rule makers and ultimate arbiters of law. But when near peers such as Russia and China arise who can also potentially become rule makers and arbiters of law, they have to be denigrated. There can only be one global judge, one enforcer.
Freedom of speech? Only when they are already safe and have control over the tools and channels of discourse. But when they are not safe or have not control … they trash the paper of speech at the first instance. Ok to incite crowds to march on government buildings in Hong Kong … but not in Washington?
Even democracy, enshrined in the charter of the UN, is not an absolute good, in the Chinese view. Sure democracy can be good when a polity works for the common good of the people. But democracy – as in “votocracy” – can also mean lawlessness, mob rule, special interests power grab, and government capture. Democracy can check on governance, but it can also be a façade for criminal leaders to evade their ultimate responsibility.
My long digression here is to point out that there is no absolute good and bad in hegemony vs multipolarity (or democracy) in general. So when Russia and China want to challenge the West over the decrepit current world order, they must be careful. They must make an example of how to be responsible partners working with each other in a new world order. They must become anchors in a new world order – not hegemons-in-cohort. The two responsible stakeholders must mutually understand each respective interests and demonstrate they can work with each other in a positive, mutually reinforcing, “win-win” fashion, despite inevitable differences.
This is why China will never ask Russia to ditch India or Vietnam vis-à-vis China. China understands Russia has its interests that China will respect. However, China can and will ask Russia to be cognizant of China’s interests too and not to be blindly against China. If big boys China and Russia can work together, others can join and feel safe and be respected.
Europe for now is kicking Russia out of the European family. This is unfortunate and is historically irrational. However, Russia should seize this opportunity to become a true distinct pole independent of Europe. Whenever I hear that Russia wants a united Europe spanning from Vladivostok to Paris (or whatever), I cringe. [side: A united Europe from Vladivostok to Paris is an unmasked form of imperialism from the perspective of Asians.] I hope one day Russia will proudly facilitate a united Eurasia from Vladivostok to London (or whatever). I hope Russia will grow out of the yoke of Europe.
Hard as it may be for Russians to want to work with other Europeans today, I know Russians are still prepared to work with his Ukrainian brothers, so working with Europeans again should not be too hard to imagine…
For now, let China be the ones to seek better relations with Europe even with the Ukraine war in full force. The beauty of multipolarity is that if done right, things will crystallize together into a masterpiece at an opportune time. The world has many currents and rivers of history and peoples. It has been suppressed for far too long. When the rest are allowed to reawaken, a new world order can arise, in a way that is harmonious and stable. If people working together can result in 1+1 being more than 2, think what billions are allowed to work in harmony.
Russia and China must treasure their friendship – as that is the key now to this imagined new world order. A new bright future awaits the world if they can work together – without limits – without having to form a new hegemony (military alliance).
Here is to a new world order. Even for those who have a stake in the current world order and stumbled to this site, understand that it cannot go on. You cannot go on stepping on Russia’s security red lines or trying to suppress China’s technological developments. What of your core interests has Russia or China violated?
I have been a long-time reader of this blog. It is sad that it will have to be shut down – at least for now. I (maybe others, too) will seek to work with the Saker next month to see if there are other incarnations we can do to keep this community alive. I believe that in this darkest of moments, it is important to keep such a community alive. But even if we don’t succeed, I urge everyone to stay strong to their deepest held ideals and beliefs. This is how the best of humanity has always been forged. In that spirit, I will share here two of my recent compositions with everyone – as I too have a musical heart. Disklavier 4, no. 23. Disklavier 5, no. 1 (these are all raw – i.e. no polished for publishing, etc.).
Best wishes … and shall we meet again!